Stories of healing with cultured foods — you could be next!
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Thank you very much for the e books and sharing your story. Finding you online and following your information has made a big change in my life. It’s only been less than two months but I am feeling the best that I’ve felt in more than 30yrs. My family and friends were sceptical but ‘we’ have shown them how much difference natural probiotics can make even in such a short time. My last diabetes blood test was the best it’s been in more than 5 years and my last eye test surprised the optometrist. When my sugars were very high in Sept, my eyes went way out of whack and a change in script would have been very drastic, but she wanted me to control my sugars and then have a retest first. She certainly wasn’t expecting this call back visit to be so good that a change in script was not even needed. Following along with Kefir and fermenting with the kefir whey, has made the biggest difference to my cravings, the pills I would pop, pain as well as meds as well as supposedly ‘feel better’ ones. Other than the real meds, all the others have been dropped bit by bit and I’m working on the real meds too with each doctors checkup. I am also looking at Kombucha but will probably make Jun as it is green tea and honey, which I prefer the taste and benefits of. Anyway, once again Thankyou, Thankyou. ❤ Maryanne Carter
About 3 years ago I was frustrated at the never ending infections, breathing treatments, and other kid health concerns that I just knew there had to be another way. I found you through a series of podcasts and had to order the kefir berries. 3 years later that same order is going strong J
I started my kids on kefir smoothies 3 years ago. At the end of that winter, prior to kefir, my youngest son had been on antibiotics about 6 times. I remember that because I knew that was the magic number for tubes. We made it through that winter with no tubes and started doing kefir smoothies about 5 days a week. Since that time my youngest son has NOT been on antibiotics since!!! I couldn’t be happier. My older son is about once per year but I just finally came to the conclusion he has allergies… so I’m going to have to figure that out next J (he is on over the counter stuff for now). My kids rarely get sick. When they do it might be a quick 1 night fever or small cough but each has only missed 1 sick day of school in the last 3 years (that was because someone literally threw up on my son J )
My “dessert smoothie” has 1c kefir, 2 mandarin oranges (with about a quarter size of the skin), 1 cup of spinach, splash of vanilla and 3/4c frozen cherries… No extra sweetener… kids LOVE it! (must have a Vitamix) It is their dessert almost every night. I have other flavors, but this is my favorite too… (this is for 2 kids)
This year I have gotten into the cultured veggies more. While they are not huge fans, if there is any hint of tummy troubles or even throwing up I have them drink the juice. I used to have to chase them around… but they know it works now and will take it when asked J
Kombucha we do occasionally… not a regular on that.
Your passion has changed the health of my kids, and maintained mine! As a working mother with 2 boys (5 & 7) I will do whatever it takes to keep them healthy and happy. People often ask how I find time to do what I do… How do you not? With the results I have gotten, I won’t stop.
Keep up the good work – I’ll keep listening to pod casts and buying your books. I totally appreciate everything you do. Thank you!
Once I received my very own first batch ten years ago to care for and use everyday all of my ailments disappeared. My health is far beyond what I had hoped for and I feel great. I am so blessed to use this miracle grain and have shared it with all my friends and family!
That is when I ran across this site. I started reading about Kombucha and Kefir. I checked out other sites on this to really understand about this drink. It made sense that I needed more probiotics than any one brand of pill could give me. So out to the store I went and bought kombucha and milk kefir.
What happened was nothing short of a miracle. I could literally feel the pain going away within half an hour of drinking the kombucha! Within a few days I realized that I was sleeping better and not feeling exhausted all day. One day I weeded the garden, cleaned house and cooked all in one day! It used to be just vacuuming would wear me out for the rest of the day!
I started making my own cultured veggies and kombucha and both water and milk kefir. Knowing that my body needed lots of help, I was drinking these often throughout the day. One morning I realized that I hadn’t had my morning tea in over a week and never missed it. Sweets slowly lost their interest. The pain was gone and I was feeling better.
This isn’t all. Through further research I realized the Candida Overgrowth connection with this as well. I am currently working on this and have drastically changed my diet.
Before this, I wasn’t without an infection for more than 2 weeks. It has been a month now with no infections. My fridge is packed with cultured veggies, kombucha and kefir that I have made myself.
I thank God for leading me to this site and bringing healing to this old gal.
I bought milk kefir grains from you back in early 2014, after watching your moving testimonial video. My son, Hudson was 4 years old at the time and had recently received a PDD-NOS diagnosis (which is a non-specific autism spectrum diagnosis) and I was desperately researching possible causes of this frustrating syndrome. He was always a sweet child but had chronic constipation, behavioral problems and severe learning disabilities. When I started him on milk kefir, he was only able to label people and things when I pointed to them; that was the extent of his communication abilities. The first night after giving both of us kefir in the form of chocolate protein shakes, I put him in bed with me out of fear of the dreaded Herxheimer reaction. I had some mild reactions myself, but what was very scary for me was waking up to Hudson wheezing and sounding like he couldn’t get any air into his lungs. I jumped up, put on shoes and buckled him into his car seat and we took off for the ER at the children’s hospital. Midway there, I heard a little voice singing in the backseat… so I pulled over, peered back at him and he was just smiling back at me and singing. That was the only day that he had a scary reaction from the die-off, but it still sticks out in my memory because it showed me the battle that was happening in his body with the introduction of an army of good bacteria. Two weeks after that day, Hudson began speaking in full sentences… TWO WEEKS. I could not even believe what I was hearing! After that, I became a kefir profit myself and my whole family started making and drinking kefir. Now- Hudson is almost 9 years old and is thriving! He is telling gross jokes and acting like a neuro-typical immature boy and I couldn’t be happier. In terms of his learning, he has become an avid reader and never wants us to tell him how to pronounce a difficult word… he tried for at least 5 minutes the other night to pronounce “unconscious” and finally allowed me to tell him, after which he repeated it incredulously and laughed hysterically. He is also a Math machine and prides himself on already knowing many of his times tables. Physically speaking, we have gone from weekly enemas to address his once-chronic constipation to never needing them. We still need to get him tested for food sensitivities again, but I have let him try some foods that he was previously sensitive to and he doesn’t have as many problems as he did before.
In terms of my own kefir journey, I have not been as consistent with it, but I always notice marked improvement in my bowel habits, overall health, and my outlook on life when I’m having kefir at least every other day. I recently got a hypothyroid diagnosis, so I am taking the consistency with the kefir routine much more seriously now.
Something else that I have tried, without the advice of a doctor, just because I thought it was worth a shot, are kefir whey implant enemas. My thought stemmed from the idea of fecal transplants and the idea that if someone’s probiotic bacteria load has been ravaged by antibiotics, it will affect the entire digestive tract, not just the upper part. I don’t trust anyone enough to use their poo for that (nor would I trust the Medical Community to select someone suitable), so I thought of the kefir. I decided that milk solids would inflame the lower digestive system, but maybe whey would be OK? (I’m sure many people have decided I am cuckoo at this point in the story.) I started on myself first and tried 1 enema per week for about two months. After just two rounds, I noticed increases in energy, started feeling hungry in the morning for the first time ever, and started losing weight without even trying. I also noticed that my wedding ring got looser and my stomach stuck out less, which indicated that I was retaining less water and was therefore less bloated. The effect has been so astounding on my bowels and has even had positive effects on my mood! My husband was so amazed by my experience that he tried it and it has cured his decades-long chronic indigestion and has allowed him to start eating certain foods he could not eat before without stomach pain and never-ending gas! There are still some foods he cannot tolerate, but the changes have been noticeable. My hope is, since these are living probiotic bacteria, one day we won’t have to do the enemas anymore at all. For now, we are happy to do them once per week and it has almost become a competition to see whose body can produce the most happy growls and gurgles.
I hope you rest easy every night knowing that you have changed innumerable lives, many of which will never be able to thank you directly, face-to-face. Thank you for sharing your story with the world and choosing such a worthwhile vocation- to share your knowledge, experience and life-saving probiotic cultures. Together, we can heal our sick, tired, and sad society… one kefir grain at a time!
I’ve been drinking kefir and kombucha on a daily basis for three short weeks. I don’t think I’ve had this much energy and focus since I was a young child. I was diagnosed with Graves disease over 25 years ago, which is a thyroid disease. I’ve struggled with debilitating tiredness, brain fog, and depression (due to never feeling well) for almost the full 25 years. I was able to overcome depression about 6 months ago. However, since I’ve adopted probiotics in my daily diet, my energy has increased, my focus is much better, and my mood continues to elevate.
About 15+ years ago, I couldn’t breathe very well and finally went to the doctor. I was diagnosed with asthma which was so severe the doctor said I should have gone to the emergency room. That day, I was scared for my life, and that was the day I had to start taking inhalers, purchase a nebulizer (which was very expensive), and take allergy medicine.
About 6 1/2 years ago I got two chinchilla’s, Ruby and Daisy, and found out I was highly allergic to the hay they ate, as well as the dust they need to roll around in once a week, minimally. I had to turned my office into their play room because I had a terrible time breathing, which forced me to use an inhaler every day. I actually had to buy a face mask respirator to give them their bath, clean their bedding, vacuum, etc, which still didn’t protect my lungs one hundred percent. A few days ago, I came out of the chilla’s room after sitting on the floor, playing with Ruby and Daisy for about 30 minutes. The moment I realized that I didn’t have one asthmatic/allergy symptom and didn’t need my inhaler blew my mind! Usually, if I just stepped into the room to do something, let alone let them jump all over me, I couldn’t breathe, and my mouth, throat, and eyes would itch horribly. You had to pick my jaw up off the floor because I couldn’t believe I could breathe perfectly well, and had zero itchiness.
Donna, I will be forever grateful that you agreed to come into this life and go down to the abyss so that you could heal yourself, your family, and ultimately millions of people. You’ve literally changed my life in three short weeks.
By October 2016, I had found multiple sites recommending fermented vegetables and, after looking at many pages and several videos, I found one that just spoke to me. It was Donna Schwenk’s video on making sauerkraut. But, it wasn’t just a how-to video. She shared so much background information and stories of her own life. So, I watched that video over and over again, purchased the things I would need to make some sauerkraut, and made my first batch on November 2, 2016 while watching that video again! That was the beginning of my life with cultured foods. On November 7, when I opened that Mason jar, I said a little prayer and took a bite. It was awesome and I was so proud of myself that I shared it on social media. By Thanksgiving, I began brewing Kombucha and by Christmas I began making milk kefir. Around that time, I realized I had not taken an Advil since my first bite of sauerkraut in November. Before then, I usually took 4-6/day for headaches and general aches and pains. I thought it must be normal for a 56-year old to feel that way. I was wrong!
As I prepared to return for my 6-month checkup on January 16, 2017, I was very nervous, not knowing how my physician would react to the fact I was not taking the statin and I had started this regimen of cultured food in its place. As I expected, he rolled his eyes a little when I told him, but I was so excited, it didn’t bother me. He annotated in my file that I was intolerant/allergic to statins and said he would fight with my insurance company to pay for a new drug that isn’t covered. He told me to “continue with your fermented things” until he called me back the next day with my lab results. That was a Monday and by Thursday, I realized he never called. When I called, his nurse told me “your labs are good and the doctor will see you back in 6 months”. I was so excited and asked her for my detailed numbers. My cholesterol dropped 41 points!!
Since then, I have posted about making sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir on my social media, offering to help anyone who would like to start. I have shared my cholesterol story and encouraged others to try fermented foods/beverages. It has brought me so much joy to (1) find a food that I love that can improve my health more than any medication and (2) share all the information I have learned with my friends. I am so grateful to have found Donna’s video on Youtube, which led me to Cultured Food Life
Thank you, Donna!
I am 56 years old and have struggled all my life with weight issues, digestive issues and hypoglycemia. I am a Naturalpathic Healer, attended and Graduated from the School of Natural Medicine in Boulder, CO. So I have been using natural therapies for illness and healing for over 30 years. But no matter what I have done, weight and digestion has been a real struggle. Last year about this time, my husband and I sat down and said ok, we must do something cause feeling ill and our joints hurting all the time is just not a way to live life.
So I started researching again of different ways of working on losing weight, (diets don’t work), and changing how we life our life. One of the things first things I was researching was how to eliminate soda from our life. (We drank a lot of soda). Came across Kombucha, well never hearing of this before, I looked into it further, I bought a couple of bottles to try and I liked it so I went home and researched, how to make our own, cause buying was expensive. Found a video done by Cultural for Health and they sold this mysterious thing they called a SCOBY. So I ordered it.
When it arrived, I excitingly followed the instructions and watched the video again on how to start my kombucha (dehydrated scoby). Had to wait several weeks for results, well sorry to say the scoby never came alive. So feeling disappointed, got back on internet, suddenly there Donna Schwenk and Sandor Katz are on my search engine in you-tube. Cool, watched these video over and over. Went to local store got GT’s original Kombucha, made the tea as instructed, added the little baby scoby and then magic happened in just 7 days and brand new scoby was growing. And we have been going strong ever since, no more soda in this house. Although we had bumps and bruises along the way, our technique is working very well. We do both black and green teas, then 2nd ferments. Love Donna’s ideas when it comes to flavors.
This was just the beginning, because of the Kombucha, led me into Kefir, Donna’s Kefir Grains. (OH my they are powerful and resilient) I got Donna’s in March of 2016, (I think I have billions of them now). Then of course the fermented vegetables, (hence we have the Trilogy) we now live in the world of microbes.
Our health has changed dramatically, little to no joint pain, we have caught ourselves running, which is something neither one of us have done in years, going up and downstairs are no longer a struggle. Our everyday stamina has increased, in other words we are not always tired. We both don’t feel bloated or constipated any longer, which was a real problem for me. Oh, can’t forget the changes in our hair and skin, skin tags went away on their own and I had age spots on my hands that went away also. Although we still struggle with weight which we are still working on, but I feel that the microbes has to heal other parts of our bodies first in order for us to get to the next page of our healing. That being said, I am going to share my last healing crisis.
When I was 19, I had a pancreatitis attack. The pain was absolutely unbearable, put me in the hospital for 3 days. Pain meds and to drink some kind of nasty drink. Do not remember what it was, but it was nasty. Was sent home with a very bland diet, which at that time seemed to have help. Started taking Probiotics on a daily basis for years.
Did not have an attack since then, until two weeks ago. I woke up in the morning feeling ok, little out of sorts but ok. Within a few hours I was in extraordinary pain, I knew what it was immediately. Can’t forget that pain. Well, I very quickly got on-line and looked at natural concepts to get me through this, cause going to hospital is not a option, cause they only mask the problem, not heal the problem. So not much is said about healing naturally so, other than a few teas to cleanse the liver and gull bladder, which is good for cleansing, but I am in a crisis situation so not helpful. So I started a regime of sauerkraut juice, Kefir and Kombucha, simultaneously drank a little at a time and in between drank ginger/lemon tea with probiotics. By the end of the day the swelling had gone down and the pain was decreasing. Got to get some sleep through the night without to much trouble. Next day feeling about the same, so I continued the Trilogy juice, as that day went on I felt even better, most of the abdominal swelling had gone down, but still some slight pain though, but tolerable. At this point, I can’t seem to get enough Kombucha, I kept craving more, so I drank more. I was going to bathroom a lot, I knew this was cleaning me out. That evening went to bed, had to get up a few time to go to bathroom, drinking 4/16 oz bottles of Kombucha will do that to you. It was about 3 am I woke up, I was sweating like I have never have in my life, not even through menopause. I was just drenched and my husband could not believe how hot I was, but I did not feel like I had a fever. Had to change my night gown, got some water went back to bed, slept until my usual wake up time. Wow, I felt amazingly different when I woke up. Pain was gone, swelling was gone and I had gone through a huge physical change. The Kombucha was the key balancing my liver, pancreas and gull bladder. And it certainly released what ever toxic thing that was going on, out through my sweat glands and skin.
I know if I had not been doing the microbes, I would have ended up in the hospital, just because of the pain alone. But, I knew that my microbes friends would be there for me. I am so happy that I had found Donna’s page a year ago. I read the blogs and Everyone here has changed my life.
Now I can move forward and work on weight loss in 2017.
All the best to you and your family, you are now part of my life and when my daughter hears your voice on the computer she asks me: Is this the lady who saved you mommy? Yes she is the lady who saved me.
Lots of love and light to you Samantha
A friend of mine was already seeing a doctor for her pain and unexplained weight gain and brain fog, so she suggested I go see him too. I agreed. I really didn’t know what else to do. To shorten this story, lets just get to the part where I was diagnosed with a boat load of things, like fibromyalgia, RA, spinal stenosis, and the list went on. I walked out with a fist full of drugs for free and a list of prescriptions I was to start taking immediately. One of which was a form of chemo drug. I felt numb. My daughter, and newly born grandson were with me. I waited forever to be a grandmother, and there I was, standing in a Doctors office, watching them decorate a Christmas tree, looking at my grandson I waited for my whole life it seemed, and I couldn’t even hold him in my arms without it causing me horrible pain! I started crying and it seemed I never stopped crying for a really long time. I thought about all the things I wanted to do in my life, still, and that I was never going to get to do them. I pictured my hair falling out. I cried again. I tried with all my might to climb up in my daughters SUV and it took all the energy I had! I kept staring down at the fist full of prescriptions wondering what happened to my life! I was a vibrant woman who trained horses and showed them along side my daughter, how did I end up here? My daughter was trying to look like it was all ok, but I could see that look in her eye as though it were my reflection. The tears just kept burning my face. I was so lost that day.
I went on to fill the prescriptions, started taking them, first started with the full pack of steroids. Oh my goodness. I thought I was King of the Mountain when I was taking them. No pain, energy to burn. House as clean as a pin. And then they wore off!! The pain was even more horrible. ( the doctor warned me it would happen). Then every morning I had my cup to fill of prescriptions. A paper to write down when what and how much of all that poison to swallow. I got so depressed I was losing focus all together on what the purpose of my life was.
Now, the second month of doctors visits, weight gain noted, 40lbs so far, and more burning pain in my limbs. Another doctor to visit. This time a new one. A specialist. The elevator door opened and all I remember seeing were rows of reclining chairs with IV poles hanging from them and patients sitting and watching TV. My heart raced. The tears started filling my eyes again. I realized my life was no longer my own and I was now a patient. After spending a great deal of time in an office spilling my guts to this new doctor about my symptoms, I just started crying and couldn’t stop. She handed me a box of kleenex and I really don’t remember how long it took for me to stop crying and get dressed to leave.
More prescriptions. They filled them there at the office. I was now in a fog I couldn’t see a way out of. My friend drove me home. I don’t remember even talking to her or thanking her for being there. Because I felt so alone, maybe I thought I was alone.
Long story short the steroid meds were administered wrong and I was so wound up I couldn’t stand it. I called to get help. They told me to call my own family doctor and ask them for a prescription for Valium. I knew then, I was in big trouble.
I got mad. I got really mad. I immediately started looking for another doctor. One who really cared. Low and behold I found one. He also told me I didn’t have all those diseases, and that he needed to wean me off those meds!! I had blood work, xrays, etc. to confirm I didn’t have all those diseases but that my body was indeed reacting to something. The inflammation was real and so was the pain.
I started searching the internet for old fashioned home remedies. Herbs, spices, elixirs, whatever it took. I had remembered my grandparents used home remedies and that their parents did too. So I decided I was going to find some and make them myself.
I found a website that mentioned fermented veggies. It explained that way back when they fermented veggies and the benefits were unbelievable. So I searched more. I found a woman named Donna Schwenk who made ferments and milk kefir. I had to know more. So I read her blog like someone starving for food! I drank it in. I talked about. I would get up in the middle of the night because I couldn’t sleep, so I read and I learned. I watched videos on how to make this stuff. I immediately ordered the starters. I made my first batch of fermented veggies. It was so good I ate way too much of it at first. I felt the “die off” they speak of and it was unpleasant, but I didn’t stop. I knew this was the stuff I was meant to eat. I knew I was on the right track!! I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, Donna was my teacher!! I went from veggies, to water kefir then to milk kefir, then to Kombucha. I fermented every thing!! My husband said I was a mad scientist!! I laughed. I said, “I’m making my own medicine”. “It’s healing me from the inside out”.. I thank the Lord for Donna. I call her my hero. I’ve told her that more than once on facebook. She is my hero. I believe God took me to her website and she is the reason why I am still, after 7 years, can’t believe its been that long,, still making my ferments. My family eats my ferments. They drink my kombucha and my water kefir. I use my milk kefir for my protein drinks, and for making my salad dressings, and dips. I have used it in soups and much more. My husband loves my ranch dressing and he dips his veggies in it. My lake friends love my fermented salsa. They talk about that the most. My favorite is my orange water kefir. My whole family drinks my orange water kefir. No more experiments with flavors, orange is their favorite. The grandson I spoke of earlier that I was not able to hold, is now 8 years old and I hold him as much as he lets me. I have another grandson who is 6 and he lets me snuggle with him a lot. I certainly hope you can read how much I appreciate having my life back. Thanks to Donna and her research and forging ahead for us, I do have my life back. We have a houseboat and we go every weekend and every spare minute. I have kayaks and I use them a lot. I went on a kayak adventure of 14.7 miles on the river and I had my Aunt with me and I did all the rowing for both of us!! Yes, it hurt later, but I think it was worth it!!
I’ll say it again, Donna is my hero and she will always have that title as far as I’m concerned. I have a lot to thank her for. I know and I believe that fermented foods and drinks are what healed me. I was taking 28 pills a day! But I don’t any more! Now I’m a supplement girl! I am 58 years old this year. I didn’t feel like I would ever make it to this age. Oh, one more thing, I’ve had many people say I do not look 58 years old! Thank you Donna for doing the ground work and making the public available to your research. I have purchased your grains, and still have them all this time later. They still continue to make me well. My sister in Australia is also a follower. Take care. Here’s a big atta boy from me in Kentucky!!
We also have a French bulldog that I have been giving kefir to because of his skin allergies. It is slowly working on him as well!
Thank you for all that you do! I share your Facebook page and books with everyone I speak to about health and wellness. The trilogy has been the foundation of my health recovery from IBS along with essential oils and healthy whole food! Have a great weekend!
I started making my own kefir once I learned about your blog and I learned how to make kefir first I started making kombucha and now I’m a keeper and I just can’t keep up drinking with it it’s so fast I live alone so I put my kefir grains in the refrigerator with some fresh milk and I take him out every once in awhile like every once or twice a week my life has changed drastically I had really bad account at the doctor next last year and I had was almost diabetic I had high liver enzymes high triglycerides and high cholesterol were not high but getting high and I was just depression lack of energy they kept blaming it on my thyroid I had high blood pressure in two months time I lowered my A1c to normal I’ve lowered all my liver enzymes even though I have fatty liver I’m in the low forties now instead of the high nineties I lowered my blood pressure from 159 / 92 to 128 over 80 and I am feeling very chipper I still am fatigued a little bit but not as bad and I’m exercising now and feeling a little more energy even planted a little garden so I must say drinking Kefir in the morning drinking it before I go to bed drinking kombucha and throughout the day I have swear by it and I’m trying to get my friends to do it thank you so much for changing my life Donna!
Yesterday I drank the milk from the kefir grains when making a new batch in the back of my car as they were already 24 hours out. My friend and I stopped at a place to eat which had some amazing chili lime shrimp tacos. I’d have avoided them but had the kefir and decided to test it. No Heartburn! I ate chocolate last night as a true test, No Heartburn! Slept like a baby and after a 10-12 hour drive with me doing nearly all of the driving, I’m PEPPY today!
I always knew the answer was in food but never could figure out what ones exactly.
Your own trials have changed MY life forever. Forever!!
I cannot thank you enough for having classes, getting so much information together in book form, doing so much research and creation on behalf of your body. THANK YOU FOR SHARING EVERYTHING including your amazing bacteria!!
Today I’ve had several people tell me how GREAT I look! I’m right now in the process of making several batches of goodies. 2 kefirs are in 2nd ferment, one is happening with coconut milk and another two are doing their thing with regular milk. In a few minutes I’m making the grapes, the tomatoes and several quart jars of veggies to pass to friends (just the veggies for now!) because I KNOW they will feel better!
You are AMAZING, sister!!!
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!
When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use.
When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.
Three years ago I was so sick I didn’t think I was going to live much longer. I was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus. I took medication that cured the hepatitis but my liver was diseased and damaged. The diagnosis was confirmed by a CT Scan and the report was very grim. My liver was scarred and shrunken. My body was unable to digest protein and it was turning into ammonia and poisoning me. I was disoriented and had difficulty focusing on daily activities. My hands had tremors and I could barely sign my name. I lost forty pounds in one month. There was no muscle or fat left on my body, I was skin and bones. My whole body ached and my joints were painful. I had a constant pressure headache. My face was drawn and my eyes sunken into my head. My hair was thin, brittle and falling out. I bled and bruised easily. My skin was like rice paper and sometimes ripped and bled from a simple touch or bumping into things. I remember removing a bandaid and watch ing the skin tear like paper. I also had ascites, a pleural effusion, a distended stomach and fluid in the abdomen, a side effect of cirrhosis which also caused a painful and debilitating hernia. My legs and ankles swelled from standing or sitting too long in one position (edema). My heart rate was 42-46 beats per minute (bradycardia), and my blood pressure was dangerously low. My gall bladder was swollen and had gallstones. I had surgery to repair the hernia but It was not healing properly.
Prior to my cirrhosis attack I suffered from chronic severe heartburn. I was in so much agony I had surgery to repair my esophagus. I only experienced minor improvement. Shortly thereafter, I became ill with cirrhosis and my heartburn came back with a vengeance, it was worse than it had ever been. My esophagus was raw, I had difficulty swallowing (dysphasia), frequent choking and coughing, food and pills would get stuck in my throat. My voice was hoarse and my ears were aching and clogged. I was as miserable from my digestive disorder as I was from my cirrhosis. I was taking six heartburn pills every day, 2 Prilosec and 4 Zantac maximum strength. All of that medication only took the edge off the heartburn. I was placed on a low sodium and low protein diet and prescribed several other medications to stabilize my condition. I was barely existing on a diet of oatmeal, rice, grits, eggs, low acid fruits and melons, nutrition shakes and an occasional piece of meat.
I was desperate, gravely sick, unable to sleep and living one day at a time. I was afraid to close my eyes, I feared I would not wake up. For fifteen months I existed like this and never gained an ounce of weight. Some days were better than others but my condition didn’t change. I was embarrassed to go places or socialize because I looked and felt so bad. One day I got a phone call from my sister in law and she told me about a supplement that was beneficial for heartburn. While researching this supplement I came across an article that recommended drinking milk kefir and eating cultured foods as a way to improve heartburn and regain health.
I ordered milk kefir grains online for $10 or so. The second day after drinking my homemade milk kefir I told my wife I felt different. My stomach didn’t ache as much and my esophagus felt soothed and less irritated. After a couple days of feeling improved my heartburn returned and I slipped back into the same rut, but I was determined to stick with it and give it a chance to work. I drank kefir twice a day and sometimes more and little by little I started feeling better. With each monthly doctor visit I would report some improvement and I would ask to cut back on my medications. Most notably, I started gaining weight, real muscle and even a little body fat. My doctor asked me what I was doing different and I told him about milk kefir.
Along the way, I found your website, culturedfoodlife.com and listened to your incredible story of healing. Your knowledge, enthusiasm and sincerity kept me going when I didn’t think it was going to work. You explained how these foods worked and what I could expect from drinking milk kefir. I learned to make cultured foods and soon had homemade sauerkraut and kosher pickles in my refrigerator too. In four months time I was became a different person. I felt alive again, I was gaining weight and I was eating real food. I reduced my heartburn medication from six pills down to two pills. In time, I was able to stop taking all other medications. All of the horrible side effects of my cirrhosis were improving.
It’s now been 23 months since my first drink of kefir. I have gained back all the weight I lost from my disease. I am active, energetic and living life again like I never thought possible. I still have cirrhosis, my liver is damaged, but somehow my body is compensating and I am living without any of the side effects like those I described above. I know the milk kefir has completely rebalanced my gut and allowed my body to digest foods and heal itself. My heartburn is gone, I can eat any food I want, even foods that I haven’t eaten in more than ten years, including spicy!
I want to thank you for the incredible work you are doing. Your energy, enthusiasm and spirit kept me going when I thought I wasn’t going to improve. I want to encourage you to continue sharing your story and your knowledge because you have helped so many people rediscover their health and enjoy their lives the way it was meant to be. You have helped me tremendously and I am so grateful for that. I will be celebrating my 67th birthday this August.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, (and my liver too, haha),
He is off all medications and is doing great! He was unemployed for much of those 11 years and we have 7 children! Talk about stress!!! Now we make 2 gallons of kefir every day and drink every bit of it. The kids love it, and I feel better and so does my husband.
You’ve given all 9 of us a new lease on life. If only you knew how terribly awful our lives have been for the past 11 years. The only light at the end of the tunnel was the oncoming train. I feel like a little girl on Christmas morning every morning now. I truly love life now!
Thank you, Donna!!!
I remember when he was still in his stupor, and you made a comment about how he takes everything in and is so observant, and you could see his brain working – yet he couldn’t communicate or even crawl at that time – he was!! He was storing all that info for later! I wanted to let you know that the little brain that wasn’t able to talk for the longest time and just gazed around like he couldn’t comprehend anything …. THAT little brain IS READING!!! AT 3 YEARS OLD! I kid you not, Donna! ! I think he will start piano lessons soon – he LOVES music …
Watch, Donna ~ his successes are because of your food cult and your enthusiasm for food! We started sprouting, making coconut kefir, kombucha (which he BEGS for!), lots of cultured veggies, and tons of Bubbies pickles! I decided that since we ran out of coconut milk … we might as well go with raw milk on Saturday! And he did great.
I AM THRILLED!!!!
I can’t tell you how big of a breakthrough this is for us! I even gave him raw milk and his sprouted cookies for a snack today! It has been a very hard road for us that we are still on – but our road has been made so much smoother because of your help!
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for your help and for never tiring of my scoffing!“
When I came across your video telling the story of your healing journey, it was so inspiring to me! Just the way you tackle life with such zeal sold me on cultured foods. I was making kefir already, but I started the second ferment and it was so good! I then inhaled pickle juice and crave it. I got my sauerkraut going.
The most helpful thing you taught me was how to make successful sourdough! I was fixing to throw out my starter because my bread was always dense and flat. Now I have beautiful, yummy bread every week. I’m feeling better and having more energy than I have in the past 3 years. My laundry is finally staying caught up! 🙂 My husband thanks you.
My mother and Grandmother are now kefir makers. I have also been passing out Kefir grains to all the people in our church. I’m on a mission to have the healthiest flock around! Thanks so much for all you do, and for your passion and love for good health!
God Bless You!!
Her sister was threatening her to not come close to ‘her’ bowl of whey. So now, I drain my kefir in the bathroom where I can shut the doors. When the dust settled, I gave them both a small drink of whey and some kefir which they loved and they gobble it down now, twice a day. It has made so much difference to Buttons (the first dog), who suffers from IBD and occasionally pancreatitis, that I will keep on giving it to them. Buttons was experiencing a bout of IBD at the time I started giving it to her but that cleared up very quickly and the vet said that once we know that the IBD bout has completely cleared this time, we’ll keep the dogs on the kefir and wean Buttons off her medication (herbal) and see how she goes.
They like it so much that I tried them on my sauerkraut – but nope, not this time! LOL! We are growing some of our own veggies and sooner or later we’ll catch up on the rest of the world and I’ll be able to follow your recipes and ideas more closely. I’m able to adapt them to using what I can get hold of so we’re doing okay. You have changed our lives so much for the better, so thank you for sharing your story and ideas.
I started making water kefir and cultured vegetables to supplement the probiotic that was prescribed. my children ask for water kefir every day!! and my son asks for his cultured carrots. While we have a long way to go before we reach health, I feel like we are on the correct path. I can’t wait to learn more!
He had many food allergies and showed signs of ADD, hyperactivity, and Dyslexia. He also seemed to catch every cold and flu that went around and would be sick for several days. We used your grains to start making kefir for him as an alternative to the milk he was allergic to. He absolutely loved it and showed no sign of reaction to it.
We noticed that he seemed able to focus more and had fewer behavior problems. Kefir also me helped me feel better, so I went one step further and made Shelly’s Cultured Vegetables from your book to try for myself. He came down with the flu and I thought, what the heck, might as well give it to him. We gave him a spoonful every hour or so and by that evening he was running around being a normal 4-year-old boy, so we kept feeding it to him every day.
That is when things really started to change.
He has lost all signs of his ADD, is able to focus, and doesn’t get sick all the time like he used to. I was so shocked by the effect cultured foods had on his mental health and behavior. I started researching it and found so much evidence to support what you have been teaching all along. Now he eats cultured vegetables and kefir every day.
I know the whole course of his life has been changed for the better. He will spend so much more of his life being well and will be able to do so many more things because he won’t be sick all the time. He will be able to focus better in school and have less behavior issues. It is impossible to measure how much the possibilities of his life have been changed for the better and that is why I can’t thank you enough.
Got a new jar on the counter with a grain in it for making more! Everyone in the house is drinking kefir today to keep us away from what looks like a whole lot of nastiness!!
We travel full-time in our RV motor home doing volunteer work at OR and CA state parks and now have more energy and fewer aches and pains……literally none. We now sense we’ll be able to remain “drug free” for hopefully the rest of our lives….what a blessing. We care increasingly less about inequities and more about how we can get this important message out.
Your story and efforts are inspirational. We’ll be doing more in future.
Keep up the wonderful work. Blessings,
Well the only person that got a cold over the holiday was…you guessed it, my son. He didn’t have much, but a nasty nose and little cough for about 10 days. While we all lived in close quarters with him, NO ONE ever even had a symptom. So we are big believers, and while he sees it and will keep trying it (he is good about that), he is just not a fan.
I need to figure out if it is the carbonation, because he likes pickles, fermented carrots and fermented asparagus, so maybe I just need to keep it flat and give it to him.
Anyway, keep up the great work,
We have been on a journey to health through whole foods. We feel that cultured foods are a huge piece of the puzzle to keeping our family healthy and happy. Thank you for all you do! I Love learning about And implementing these new (to us) foods in My family’s diet. I can’t wait to learn more and share it with anyone and everyone who is willing to hear it!
Two of her 3 boys have digestive problems and she wants them to drink it everyday. Plus her doctor told her to drink kefir for joint problems. (She is the one who was first so offended about kefir vs. matsoni.) So I just wanted to let you know that with all your help and your wonderful videos, I feel I made a successful start with Kefir that I don’t think I ever would have done with all the help, pictures, videos, answered questions!
After traveling to Ukraine for two weeks later this month, I’ll come back and start on cultured veggies! Now I have two friends who want kefir grains, so it means when I travel, I’ll have someone to care for my grains or I can just get new ones. You’re such a blessing to me and to so many others. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your detailed videos, answers to questions and more. I don’t know any other website or help site that provides so much help.
Also, it was delightful skyping with you!
With deep gratitude,
PS: I just LOVE your website and all the answers. I had a question about using a cellar to store cultured veggies and was going to email you. Then I decided to check the forum first and found a detailed answer!
What a great service!
I started take probiotic capsules and didn’t really notice a change in my life. Then, I ordered a case of cultured vegetables from immunutrition.com because reading about making them yourself seemed nothing short of crazy! I loved the veggies and found that when I ate them daily, I didn’t crave sugar – which was a first in my life. When I went to order a second case, they were 4-6 weeks backordered (they were featured on mercola.com), and I almost had a panic attack. What would I do without my veggies?
I went to the internet and searched, and I found your site. I loved that you had videos and SIMPLE short recipes. No crazy ingredients, no giant batches, no $1,000 equipment, just simple and delicious. I made my first veggies – Christmas Kraut – which sounded so wonderful (and was!). I was hooked on making them! I signed up for your free guides and read every word. I decided to really commit and becoming a biotic pro for a year. I starting watching your classes and was fascinated!!
You sent me your book so quickly and I was jumping up when it came in the mail!! I read all the recipes, dreamed about making every one! I made Maci’s carrots and apple kraut and they were fantastic! I started to think about Kefir – but I had such a hard time digesting milk – I just didn’t think it would work for me. But, I got a powdered cultured and tried it. At first it was so fizzy and tart, I just didn’t know if I would enjoy it. But I drank it more. I even made a batch with Horizon Organic Chocolate Milk for my kids. THEY LOVED IT!
I started adding a drop or two of extracts and a couple drops of Stevia and it was like a dessert. I had no trouble digesting it – I was overjoyed! I always have one or two batches ‘cooking’. The more I ate/drank – which was every meal – the better I felt. I can’t describe it – but I felt alive. Really alive. More than I have in such a long time. I woke up refreshed in the morning. My chronic yeast infections were gone. My skin was radiant. I thought happy thoughts about everything in life! I don’t know how all these foods can do this exactly, but something has changed inside me – down to my core.
What is amazing too, is that so many foods used to bother my stomach and I had IBS very bad (abdominal pain). I always had a belly ache. Now I eat kefir, veggies, ccoo biotic, etc. with all my meals and all my indigestion has gone away. Sometimes we eat out, and I have some veggies and kefir before we leave. I think it is going to irritate my IBS, but it never does. It is like a miracle.
I also want to tell you that I love your videos for the Biotic Pro. I love being able to ‘take’ one of your classes day or night. I love how passionate you are about everything you do. You have made this daunting task so very easy! Your recipes are smaller batches, so I can make them easily in between everything else I do. All your instructions are perfectly clear and easy to follow. Your book is magnificent! I hope you’ll come up with a volume II someday! Very soon I’ll start to get more adventurous!
Just today I made a batch of Daikons and made up a simple recipe myself. It’s very addicting. I told my husband – I will run out of refrigerator space before I run out of enthusiasm! If I make a recipe that I really love, I’ll email it to you too! Thank you again for all your help! There are people who are put on this earth to make our world a better, happier place – and you are one of those people. You bring joy and health to all the people whose lives you touch. These gifts you give to others are beyond value and we are forever grateful. Thank you for sharing your passion!
Happiness and health to you, always.
Since then I have jumped into all kinds of fermenting, kefir, kefir water, and fermented vegetables. I originally just followed recipes from Wild fermention ,but then I came across your facebook site and then your website. I have found it very inspiring and am so glad to see that so many other people are having their health transformed by incorporating fermented foods.
My husband and I are beekeepers and are currently trying very hard to inform people about the dangers of gmo crops and the deadly effects they have on our earths pollinators. we live in a world where we seem to be at war with an industry that is pushing poisoned, chemical laden food that is devoid of nutrition, I see so many people eating more and more of this food seeking to fill their bodies with the nutrition they need and still they are malnourished. I sincerely thank you for helping people and making all this information readily available and easy to use.
You are making a huge difference in so many peoples lives!
We attended your introduction class in March 2012 and bought some milk kefir grains that night. Within a few months we’d added water kefir, kombucha and cultured veggies to our diet. I’d been taking coconut oil for some time so I suppose we can add that to the list, too. I take all these religiously every day and am pleased to report that now, just fourteen or fifteen months later, I am essentially allergy-symptom free! Wheeee!
I still can’t believe it! It’s hard to explain how great it feels not to have to put up with these long-held symptoms anymore. Summers were always the worst, but this year my allergies just have not been a problem. And I understand this summer is one of the worst for allergy sufferers like me. While I didn’t play football with dinosaur eggs in my youth, I am approaching my sixty-sixth birthday in a few months, so I’m pleased that for once, age doesn’t seem to be a complicating factor.
It looks like you can get healthy at any age. I hope your followers are experiencing similar results, or can hold out some reasonable hope that they, too, can reduce or eliminate the symptoms. If it worked for me, it has to work for others. Just thought you’d like to know. Thanks for educating us about these wonderful healing foods.
So Saturday morning i started with a kefir smoothie with lots of coconut oil, a big glass of kombucha with green powder & i started scooping & drinking the juice from the relish of yours I made a few weeks back (relish was almost gone but the liquid was still left) so over 2hours I sipped kombucha & pickle juice (between toilet visits) & repeated to myself that id be good by lunchtime… I was!!! I went to the festival at 12:30pm & rocked on till 12:30am on water & some lite food & by the end i was still bouncing off the walls when all the drunk people looked like death!
I had/have so much energy i cannot put it into words! I can only thank u for your amazing posts & real life wisdom & experiences that directed me to this amazing world of bacteria! Its been a bit of a confirmation for me it has affirmed my direction with my health so thank u!
Through my ill’s there comes a will!
I fell off the bandwagon for awhile, mostly due to exhaustion of raising two very active, very close in age children. Since the last year, I got on the bandwagon again, and I have really been impacted by your blog and your facebook posts, about how good fermented foods make you feel, and how they make you happy and aid in bettering your life. I totally agree!
I am actively fermenting and eating fermented foods on a regular basis. If I have a meal without a fermented food, I really feel bummed about it. It feels like something is missing. It doesn’t feel like a meal. What’s even better, is that my children know the importance of fermented foods and they love them. It has just always been a part of what we do. What we most love is kefir, kombucha, kvass, and kimchi… all the K’s!
We have at least one of these with every meal, usually 2. It has changed my outlook on life. It really feels like I am more happy and full of more energy when I consume these foods. I have a heart condition and trouble breathing most of the time, so I am nearly always exhausted.
If I stick to 1 or 2 fermented foods per meal, I am almost symptom free. It’s so miraculous. I am known for carrying my own bag of food around with me for myself and my children. I have to have something fermented with us when we go out, either kombucha or kimchi. It’s become a part of me. I can’t leave the house without it. It would feel like forgetting my purse or my keys. We live on fermented foods and not only that, we are thriving on them. I am thankful that my children have never had a major illness.
The most they’ve ever had is a cold, and not often at all. I almost never get sick either, and if I am, it lasts about a day, I eat lots of kimchi, kombucha, and pickles, and sure enough the next day it is gone. I remember growing up, if I ever got a cold or the flu, I could be sick in bed for a week or more easily. Now, these probiotic foods protect and heal me. I love my kefir grains, I love my SCOBYs, and I say thank you to them all the time.
They are like my pets. I love ‘em. My kids do too. Thanks for your blog and for what you are doing to pass the love of fermented foods on to others. You inspire me to pay it forward and share these foods with others.
Blessings to you.
My stomach was greatly affected and reacted with pain to various foods and any cold foods. My intestinal system was in a turmoil with explosive diarrhea and enough gas to power a vehicle! Over the past eight weeks since my chemo finished, I have been glugging down kombucha and kefir, always at room temperature because of my stomach sensitivity, and piling sauerkraut and cultured pickles into me. Every last drop of the sauerkraut and pickle juices get drunk as well! I have experienced amazing results and my digestive system is almost back to normal.
While I am getting my strength back, my husband is enthusiastically making all these products. Right now I get to supervise! Soon I will be taking over that task and I can hardly wait! Thank you again Donna. P.S. if I had discovered these amazing cultured foods years ago, my immune system would have been much stronger and possibly I would not even have gotten cancer in the first place.
We took him to the vet for some help and they put him on medication for the heart worms to keep his lungs from filling with fluid and to keep his blood pressure down. They also gave him an antibiotic for his teeth because he has the heart-worms so bad they couldn’t sedate him to do anything let alone clean his teeth. I never give him dog food because he was fed table scraps for a year and a half before we saved him. poor thing was so weak that he would go out to tinkle and have to lay down before he could come back in. I started giving him red wine extract and he started feeling better, but he still had his issues.
I made his food everyday and hand fed him everything he would eat.(yes he’s my baby, and spoiled rotten) When I started making kefir, we had to give it a try! I have found he stopped shedding like before, everyday he would shed enough hair to make another dog! He started eating better and his teeth tightened up in his gums. Instead of walking out to take care of his business, he runs out then back in again! We thought a year ago we would help him fill his bucket list, now he is helping to fill ours!
My baby is going thru his second puppy hood:D Last night I was watering a plant I had in a pot with kefir whey, my little man started eating the dirt so I put some in a bowl and let him drink it. I could only compare it to watching a kid drinking chocolate milk. He has been wide open and feeling his oats ever since then. I don’t know what it has done for the inside of him, but it has sure added to the quality of his life as well as ours:)
I treated my weak immune system with water kefir to start with. I had to have surgery for a stag-horn kidney stone that had filled my kidney and came close to shutting it down! In the process of removing the stone, I was given enough antibiotics to kill almost all of the good bacteria in my body. I was so sick from the lack of the good bacteria that I wasn’t able to get up and go to the doctor under my own power!
The doctor had to call in a special ANTIBIOTIC to kill the bad bacteria! Well,if that was not enough, I started to develop allergies like crazy. God had to be with me because I was at my wits end,he had me start looking at the evidence of my illness and found that it stemmed from ANTI-BIOTICS.(makes you wonder don’t it) LOL.
So I found this thing called kefir in my research and decided what can’t kill me might cure me, IT CURED ME!!! When I gave it to Layla with a lot of fruit to sweeten the deal.(most autistic kids crave sugar) she stated telling me how she felt. Did you know that a lot of autistic people have a burning sensation in their skin all the time? I didn’t, because Layla couldn’t tell me. She didn’t have the conception in her mind to be able to tell me. She let me know after the kefir started working!
When this child came up to me with a smile on her face and hugged me out of the blue, I cried tears of joy! She said “Mama, my skin stopped burning” I almost felt a little guilty because you never want your baby to feel bad ever,but then we started to see other changes. We don’t have to fight her to eat anymore,she started eating health food instead of craving the bad stuff.
The doctors had her on enough meds to kill the average elephant,one to give her an appetite,two for the AD/HD symptoms,and two so she could sleep at night like normal folk and last but not least, one for depression. The kid is only 15 years old and could start her own pharmacy!
The night she walked into the den and asked if she still had to take her sleep meds blew me away as well. I had to ask “Why sugar, do you feel like you can sleep on your own?” She had a big beautiful grin on her face and said yes. Of course I had the next question ready and waiting for her, “What do you think has changed baby?” She gave the reply kind of soft” I’m not afraid to go to sleep now” I never knew that she was afraid to go to sleep! I would have been spaying the room with lavender monster spray a long time ago!
How can any good mom not have a can of monster spay for monster emergencies? Another realization in the life of an autistic mind… She later told me that every night,she would lay in bed thinking the house would burn down with all of us asleep. You can’t help but cry thinking of all this worry she had and no way to tell anyone. My dear,we have the grand finale of all grand finales,”Mom,can I stop taking the Prozac?” You know that moment in you life when someone said something that made you almost snap your own neck just to see if it was the person you though it was?( You know I had to ask her why she asked me that…)
I felt so dumb afterwards when she said “I’m not depressed anymore!” Got to say it,God is good,and kefir is the best gift that he could have ever give this family. We are still working on ways to better our chances of recovery,such as an organic diet, and social behavior therapy. (in fact,we have the therapist using it too) You just have to see it to believe it! Zeus said he just might wear his durag for the picture,he’s such a ham…
Friends in kefir,